Samsung ST6500 review

Digital camera that takes touchscreen tips from its smartphone siblings
Photo of Samsung ST6500
£180

Samsung’s new ST6500 is a digital compact camera that has been designed from scratch around its 7.6cm/3in touch screen. But that’s only part of the story: for another thing, it’s really rather dinky, measuring a sylph-like 102x57x19mm and weighing just 142g. In fact, the camera is so small that is uses a Micro-SD memory card instead of a larger standard-sized SD card.

Touchscreen control
Samsung manages the ST6500′s functions from the touchscreen at its rear, and as a result it has done away with the usual array of control buttons, jog dials and rotary selectors. This must surely help to reduce the cost – and it definitely gives the ST6500 a smoother, cleaner feel. The only physical buttons in evidence are at top of the camera, where we have the on/off and capture buttons, and at the back where there’s a zoom slider, a transfer button and a Home button. The name of the Home button is slightly misleading as it actually takes you in and out of the setup screen, which we’ll come to in a moment.

Samsung ST6500 rear
Most of the Samsung ST6500′s settings are accessed via its 3in touchscreen.

By any standard, the ST6500 is small. But when you hold it in your hand, it feels even smaller than its measurements suggest. This is thanks to the way the casing is profiled around the lens housing. The styling of the camera suggests that the lens might pack a mighty amount of optical zoom – in fact, it has a relatively low 5x rating (supplemented by an additional 5x digital zoom) which means the lens has an equivalent 35mm rating of 26mm-130mm.

Touch me, feel me
Pressing the Home button calls up the main screen with eight colourful icons for Smart Auto, Program, Scene, Smart Movie, Movie, photos Editor, Album and Settings. The screen looks good despite the fact it only packs in 230,000 pixels, which is considerably fewer than the 460,000 or 920,000 we’ve become used to seeing on screens of this size. The feeling that the ST6500 is based on the design of smartphones – in which Samsung is something of an expert – is reinforced when you flick your thumb across the screen and the second page of icons slides into place. Here you’ll find more obscure settings such as Vignetting, Beauty Shot, Magic Frame, Photo Filter, Movie Filter, Night, Palette Effect and Close Up.

You can change from one mode to another with the press of a single icon, which is as simple as simple might be. Things get slightly more sticky when you feel the need to dive deeper into the settings, for instance to adjust the sounds of the camera. At this point you’ll find that the resistive screen technology Samsung has used isn’t especially responsive or sophisticated. In fact it is a tribute to Samsung’s design that it has taken a collection of parts that lack promise yet it has managed to deliver a camera that is both simple to use and highly intuitive.

Other bits and pieces
Having said all that, the photos are not great. Despite the camera’s 16.1-megapixel CCD, photos taken using Auto/Smart mode lack crispness and focus, and are no better than acceptable – something that can’t readily be rectified with the Intelli-Studio 3 software that comes bundled with the camera. We also found that HD 720p movies were badly affected by the din of the zoom motor on the audio recording.

Our final complaint is reserved for the proprietary USB port which looks rather similar to a Mini HDMI port and which requires you to use the cable that Samsung supplies in the package – not much good if you lose it!

Company: Samsung

Website: http://www.samsung.com/uk

Contact: Samsung on 0845 67267864

Positives
  • Intuitive touchscreen controls.
Negative
  • In Auto modes the photos aren't especially sharp.

Verdict

Samsung has built the ST6500 around the touchscreen controls and the result is a compact camera that is simple to use both for novice and casual users. An impressive snapper that uses touch controls to make life as simple as possible.